“The first preference is crucial,” noted the Holy Father, “because it presupposes as a basic condition the Jesuit’s relationship with the Lord in a personal and communal life of prayer and discernment…without this prayerful attitude the other preferences will not bear fruit.”
For any Jesuit (or Jesuit school), one of the most important tools for this spiritual growth is the Spiritual Exercises. Created by St. Ignatius Loyola, these exercises are a series of prayers, meditations, and contemplative practices designed to help deepen someone’s relationship with God. After participating in the Spiritual Exercises last year, Alex Hall explained the preference in his words.
I’ve taken time in the past to read through scripture on my own, to pray daily with the help of published prayer books and guides, and to read about St. Ignatius, the Jesuits, and Ignatian Spirituality. All of this is good and has helped to grow my spiritual faith life. But to truly delve deeper into this UAP there is no better choice than to commit to a retreat and go through the Spiritual Exercises in daily life.
This has brought about a greater integration into my life of all that I knew about Ignatian Spirituality,” said Mr. Hall. “It’s no longer just something I dabble in from time to time. It’s now a radical influence and force in directing how I view God, my life, and the world. Whenever I get into the real experiences of my life and the Spiritual Exercises with my students, they tune in.
I think that’s what this UAP is all about; growing in knowledge of God and deepening our relationship through the Exercises offered by a Jesuit and then sharing our experiences with our students and colleagues. The hope of all this is that it awakens a call within our students and colleagues to get to relationally (in contrast to just intellectually) know God more fully as well.